Autumn Photography Tips: Fallen Leaves

Make the most of the fallen leaves starting to decorate our landscape.

|  Landscape and Travel
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Photo by David Pritchard


For this type of autumn photography it's worth packing a polarising filter as one of these will enhance autumn shades and help reduce glare. Then basically, all you need to do is find some autumn leaves, arrange them if you wish then photograph them. Try and get a mix of varieties if you can and if you can wait until the next morning to photograph them, they'll be covered in droplets of morning dew or if you wait until the temperature drops a little more they'll have a dusting of frost, giving you the chance to shoot some abstract Autumnal shots.

Don't have any trees at home? Well you can collect some fallen leaves from the park or venture out early and do your photography there. Look out for scenes where fallen leaves have created interesting patterns without you having to move them or where they’re decorating a particular picturesque scene. A blanket of leaves around the trunks of trees will always make a great shot that really sums up autumn. Look for objects in your garden or around the park that you can use in shots with the leaves you've collected to make a more interesting composition. 
Fallen leaves water
Photo by David Pritchard
You can position yourself a little further off the ground and photograph the whole pile of leaves but by getting in close to one or two of them, playing with several compositions you can end up with some surprisingly interesting shots. Try just focusing on the tip or stalk of one leaf or focus on the centre of one so blur creeps in at the edges. Try using a wider aperture so you get a shallow depth of field that allows detail to be to focus of the shot. Do watch out for shake creeping into your shots as it does become more noticeable when working with close focusing. Always use a tripod and make use of your camera's self-timer so you aren't touching the camera as the exposure begins. Better still, use a cable / remote release or even your SmartPhone as the trigger if your camera allows it. 

Back home, if you have a lightbox you can use it to backlight your leaf so all the detail stands out. If you're using a camera that has Live View it's worth using it to check the overall sharpness of your close up shots. It also comes in handy when you're taking shots where putting your eye to the viewfinder is a little tricky. 

If you're working by water where leaves are decorating the land surrounding it or are floating along the surface of the water as it flows downstream, experiment with longer exposure times to blur the water's movement. We say experiment as several factors will effect what length of shutter speeds you'll need to achieve your desired result.

Experiment with your camera's white balance settings to find the best colour balance for your shot and if you feel the autumn tones need more depth, use your camera's exposure compensation control and dial a - stop in. You don't need to go too low, a half or one stop should be fine. Having said that, if you shoot in RAW you can always give the colour in your shots a boost when you're back on your computer. 


Photo by Peter Bargh


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